For more than five years now, Black Alley has been pushing the DC music scene to its rhythmic limits. Determined to create a unique musical elixir, Black Alley has taken the finest ingredients of funk, jazz, soul, and rock to create a sound all their own – they call it soul garage. Musically, Black Alley is a place where Bad Brains might have chilled with Chuck Brown (R.I.P.); where Erykah Badu might slide through with Jimi Hendrix and remix a Nina Simone classic. Emotionally, Black Alley strives to connect the bitter and the sweet, the poetry and the pain, the simple and the profound. So, listen with your heart and park your ears at the soul garage… Ladies and gents, welcome to Black Alley!
The band is comprised of a group of dynamic musicians with diverse backgrounds. Each member is highly skilled on his chosen instrument. But when these instruments come together, they create a sound that flows like honey - a perfect blend for the sometimes sweet, sometimes soulful, always energetic voice of Black Alley’s leading lady. Through the years, Black Alley has been committed to its original take on crank. The grind has been hard, but fun, and many are taking notice.
Black Alley has been honored to share the stage with renowned artists like Common, Wale, Raheem DeVaughn, Eric Roberson, Chrisette Michele, Gin Blossoms, Marsha Ambrosious, Ledisi, Bilal, Rahsaan Patterson, Sy Smith, Emily King, Y’anna Crawley, Levi Stephens, Maimouna Youseff, Mint Condition, Tabi Bonney, Angie Stone, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, T.I. and more. Fans, as well as artists absolutely love to rock with Black Alley.
With the proliferation of beat machines and all sorts of technical gizmos, music lovers everywhere often worry about the extinction of real creativity. But have no fear - Black Alley continues to emerge as a force of nature, ready to take the musical landscape by storm.
Who is Black Alley?
Kacey Williams – Lead Vocals
Danny “The Animal” Henderson – Drums
Josh Hartzog – Bass
Hope Udobi – Keys
Mack Tyson – Keys
Eric "Champ" Champaleux – Rock Guitar
Walter “Bo” Beedy – Percussion
2011 - DMV Award for Best Live Performance
2012 - Washington Area Music Association Award (WAMMIE) for Best Urban Contemporary Group
2013 - Nominated for three Washington Area Music Association Award (WAMMIE) for Best Urban Contemporary Group, Best Urban Contemporary Vocalist (Kacey Williams), & Best Urban Contemporary Recording (debut album: Soul.Swagger.Rock.Sneakers.)
2011 - 1st Place Winner of Best Buy/California Tortilla/WHFS "Battle to Breakout" band contest
2012 - SOLD OUT Album Release Concert at Rock and Roll Hotel
2013 - Named one of the TOP 10 music artists in the DC/MD/VA area by 93.9 WKYS Radio Station
Omar Kashif: 202.487.3811 or email@example.com
Cam Poles: 202.486.3553 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TWENTY28: 703.539.2028 or email@example.com
"Soul, Swagger, Rock, Sneakers" available at blackalley.bandcamp.com and on iTunes. The single Shake.Stop gets rotation on WKYS 93.9 FM radio (Washington, DC)
"Black Alley: LIVE from RnR Hotel DC" available at blackalley.bandcamp.com & on iTunes.
Black Alley – “Virgin Suicide” [Extended Version Video]
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We last heard from the young guns in Black Alley when they covered Big K.R.I.T — since then, they’ve...We last heard from the young guns in Black Alley when they covered Big K.R.I.T — since then, they’ve been hard at work creating videos for their debut album, Soul. Swagger. Rock. Sneakers. The group put together a pretty dope montage for “Virgin Suicide,” which was filmed in their studio as a part of their ‘The Art of Crank’ series. The narrative track is a metaphor about Black Alley in their most vulnerable state; sharing new music with their audience. Completely packaged with Kacey‘s soulful vocals, raw spoken words and jazzy instrumentals, all 11 minutes is worth it. Watch the video below and check out their album on bandcamp.
Black Alley - "Virgin Suicide" [Video]
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Though they're still sending newbie reverberations throughout the musical world, in many ways Black ...Though they're still sending newbie reverberations throughout the musical world, in many ways Black Alley has been around for a better part of 50 years. Hailing from D.C., the 7-piece Soul Garage outfit not only conjure the spirits of 60s and 70s greats Roberta Flack, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Brown and city mates the Bad Brains, but they do it through the very D.C. elements of full-member bands and live music.
First Heard: Black Alley (VIDEO)
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NBC 4 (Washington, DC) - First Heard: Black Alley Band You cannot limit this band to just one genre...NBC 4 (Washington, DC) - First Heard: Black Alley Band
You cannot limit this band to just one genre. Black Alley Band was born and raised in the Washington area, and now it's pushing its own movement: soul garage. The group beat 40 other bands in a local competition to perform in front of thousands of people in September 2011.
Click link to watch the feature.
Reviewed: Black Alley’s Soul Swagger Rock Sneakers
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Posted by Marcus J. Moore You shouldn't label Black Alley a "go-go" band. It's limiting, if not wh...Posted by Marcus J. Moore
You shouldn't label Black Alley a "go-go" band. It's limiting, if not wholly inaccurate. While the D.C. septet incorporates the genre's congas, cowbells, and cymbal-heavy drum breaks, its sound is rooted in alt-rock and neo-soul, with dashes of hip-hop and funk for good measure.
That blend has worked well for them so far. The band has amassed a following performing weekly at hotspots Indulj and Bar 7. Last year, after a competition at the 9:30 Club, it opened the HFStival at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The annual throwback festival mostly contained indie-rock and pop-punk, while Black Alley's aesthetic is brazenly Afro-centric, from the urban gear the members wear to the R&B classics they cover. Unlike plenty of go-go groups, Black Alley doesn't rely strictly on covers to get the party jumping. Instead, this group opts for its own self-described concoction of "soul garage."
On its self-proclaimed "street album," Soul Swagger Rock Sneakers, Black Alley breezes an array of sounds with abandon, paying tribute to deceased musicians Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain along the way. Elsewhere, the band proves it can bolster a go-go groove on the edgy "Heavy Hitters," ignite a dance floor on the bouncy "Shake.Stop," and simulate a West Coast vibe on the hazy instrumental "Smoke Break."
From there, the pace slows considerably, allowing vocalist Kacey Williams to rise above an otherwise raucous soundtrack to contemplate the less glamorous aspects of relationships: dealing with a no-good man, the tug-of-war between love and lust. The results are impressive: "So Much..." makes great use of a Love Jones movie clip, hovering keys, and snapping percussion, over which Williams gets downright raw. "We fuck so much, and love so little," she sings at the onset. That honesty continues on the sultry "Virgin Suicide," with its sexual opening poem: "If I let you see me naked, will you still know how to look in my eyes/Will you still find the way to my heart, and see that as the ultimate prize."
So Rock Sneakers is certainly ambitious. Sonically, Black Alley successfully executes the genre-hopping indulgence of its dynamic live show, with plenty of heart-pumping guitar riffs and pace changes to boot. But it has missteps. The reflective "Club 27" is well-intentioned, but its placement between the stampeding "Shake.Stop" and "Used" interrupts the album's energetic flow. The interludes become tedious after a while, and the Nicki Minaj cover, "Did It On 'Em," feels a bit excessive. While the song works for the band's live set, it doesn't translate well to the album. Still, those faux pas don't tarnish the album's overall luster; Black Alley marks its territory as one of D.C.'s best bands of any sort. Talk about swagger.
Black Alley: Purveyors of funk, jazz, rock, and a shot of go-go
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Black Alley: Purveyors of funk, jazz, rock, and a shot of go-go By Jeannine Hunter Black Alley. ...Black Alley: Purveyors of funk, jazz, rock, and a shot of go-go
By Jeannine Hunter
Black Alley. (Tony Mobley)If you looked at the members of Black Alley, you might assume they only play go-go due to the band members’ ages and fashions.
And you’d be wrong.
Members call it “soul garage.” But don’t get caught up in the labels because these musicians confidently straddle various genres, revel in being outside of the box and appreciate a loyal and growing fan base they’ve carved out on the local music scene.
“They’re younger and are willing to be different, to experiment musically,” said local radio personality Salih “Bootsy Vegas” Williams, while sitting in House Studio D.C., as the group rehearsed one night last month.
Black Alley performs. (Tony Mobley) “We call it soul garage music, which is a fusion of different styles and definitely go-go is a part of that. We’re from D.C. and not ashamed of that, but it’s not our only sound,” said founder/manager Omar Kashif.
The group has been nominated for a 2012 WAMMIE in the urban contemporary duo/group category. The Washington Area Music Association presents the awards to honor the best local musicians and this year’s celebration will be held Feb. 19.
In September, Black Alley won the Hfstival Big Break, a competition that kicks off a music festival held each year in either D.C., Northern Virginia or Baltimore. The event has attracted Eminem, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and legendary crooner Tony Bennett.
Lead vocalist Kacey Williams sang the national anthem at the Wizard games against the Bulls at the Verizon Center on January 30.
The up and coming group has played with or on the same stage with such artists as Raheem Devaughn, Dionne Farris, Angie Stone and Kindred the Family Soul. In mid-January, the group opened for Grammy Award-winning songstress Chrisette Michele at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium.
The band consists of lead guitarist Eric Champaloux; percussionist Walter “Bo Beedy” Clark; bass guitarist Josh “Josh on Bass” Hartzog; drummer Danny “Animal” Henderson; keyboardists Hope Udobi and Mack Tyson; and Williams.
Black Alley performs at Cramton Auditorium in January, opening for Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Chrisette Michelle. Above, Black Alley’s Kacey Williams struts on the stage. (LaVan E. Anderson) Their musical influences span generations and styles, ranging from singers Tina Turner and Janis Joplin, bands such as N.E.R.D., Blink 182 and Earth Wind and Fire as well as artists such as Carlos Santana, jazz percussionist/composer Max Roach, rock star Eric Clapton and composer/pianist and big band leader Duke Ellington.
“I try to infuse everybody’s influences, their background and taste throughout the set,” Animal said, who doubles as the group’s musical director.
What makes them different, Animal said, is a willingness to try different beats such as Latin or soca versus riding a “solid pocket beat.”
“To me, it’s like in a garage— you have a mixture of old crates and boxes and instruments, different stuff,” said Josh on Bass, a member for two years. “A garage isn’t fancy. You can be yourself and express your feelings. What we try to share through our music is a bunch of feelings in one garage. “We try to play what may be in our hearts and hope the crowd will feed off that.”
Kashif, a Southeast D.C. native who attended Morgan State University, established the band eight years ago. The music and size of the group fluctuated until four years ago when Kacey Williams joined. Kashif, once a case manager for a nonprofit, said his vision was “to hear whatever I wanted to hear from one band.”
The name is a representation of “D.C. on the national music scene,” Kashif said. “We are this unknown entity that hasn’t got its just due.”
In the last few months, fans who flocked to Black Alley’s performances throughout the DMV tried to help expand the group’s reach.
They tweeted, sent texts and uploaded original videos to help their favorite local band rank among the top trending bands and regional finalists in a recent Grammy-related online contest.
“Between ‘Heavy Hitters’ and ‘Used’...there is nobody that can mess with #blackalley #stopsleepin,” tweeted VizMadScientist about some of the group’s popular songs, echoing the sentiment of other fans who voted repeatedly online to help the band garner the big-time gig.
Hundreds of fans of the D.C.-based group voted in the “From Your Garage to GRAMMY Live” contest sponsored by CBS. Almost Kings, of Marietta, Ga., won the contest and will perform during an online streaming event leading up to the 54th annual Grammy Awards Sunday on CBS.
“D.C. is home for many great musicians and a population used to listening to live music since they were teenagers,” said radio personality Salih “Bootsy Vegas” Williams, who appeared regularly on the now-defunct Donnie Simpson morning show on WPGC, and now hosts a radio show for GoGoradio.com. “It’s a place where you can learn and grow and develop your craft before it hits the national stage, but national artists know this place appreciates good music so that’s why they always come back and do shows.”
A drawing by Demont “Peekaso” Pinder depicting members of Black Alley band and their guests during a rehearsal in January. (Demont “Peekaso” Pinder) The group practices three nights a week barring scheduled performances. During a recent rehearsal, artist Demont “Peekaso” Pinder created a spontaneous colorful portrait of the group using his iPad 2. Art director for Raheem Devaughn, a three-time Grammy nominated R&B vocalist, Pinder often paints during the Maryland-raised singer’s shows. Pinder said he enjoys Black Alley’s energy and feels they represent what makes the region different and dynamic.
“I’m inspired by their music,” he said.
Lachelle Story of TWENTY28, a public relations/management/marketing firm that works with the band, said what distinguishes Black Alley from other groups in the greater D.C. area is its versatility.
“Their ability to not be pigeonholed or isolated in one musical genre,” Story said during a rehearsal earlier in the month. “They can go from rock to real deep soul and of course go-go all in one song effortlessly. They are one of the only bands I have ever witnessed where people become immediate fans after just one song.”
Black Alley’s debut album “Soul. Swagger. Rock. Sneakers” will be released in March, Kashif said.
Video: Black Alley x Big K.R.I.T – “Dreamin” [Live Cover]
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"The wonderful Black Alley chose their favorite Big K.R.I.T song to cover this past Monday and shot ..."The wonderful Black Alley chose their favorite Big K.R.I.T song to cover this past Monday and shot their own live garage footage for it — in less than 24 hours. They do justice to the highly rated “Dreamin” from K.R.I.T’s Return of 4eva mixtape, even getting dap-ognition from the musician himself on twitter. Lead vocalist Kacey sings K.R.I.T’s inspirational verses loud and clear; the cover is catchy and will get stuck in your head within a few minutes of listening. "
Black Alley's Perfect Noise
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by Marcus J. Moore It's Monday night in Southeast D.C., and you can hear the music halfway down t...by Marcus J. Moore
It's Monday night in Southeast D.C., and you can hear the music halfway down the block. It's a raucous yet cohesive sound—a mixture of rock-n-roll and R&B, dashed with a little hip-hop and funk.
Step inside the single-family home, and the source of the noise becomes clear: Black Alley is in the midst of a two-hour rehearsal, finalizing the songs they will perform live in the NBC Washington studios this week: "Artist's Prayer" and "Bad Girl."
The practice space is artistic enough—a pile of CDs sit on a dusty flat surface, and the brown-paneled walls celebrate musical pioneers: Aretha Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, and Quincy Jones, among others. A white dry-erase board outlines the band's immediate plans. There's the setlist for an upcoming gig and the working tracklist for the group's upcoming album, Soul Swagger Rock Sneakers, which doesn't have a release date (Kacey Williams, the band's vocalist, says the album is definitely in its finishing stages).
In tall green letters, that same erase board brings to light what is arguably Black Alley's biggest gig ever: "MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION!!!"
This Saturday, the seven-piece band will open this year's HFStival at the pavilion, a daylong concert featuring 20 acts, including Diane Birch, Gin Blossoms, and Minus the Bear. Black Alley earned the opportunity to perform this weekend after winning the California Tortilla Battle to Break Out competition at the 9:30 Club last month. (Just for perspective, Good Charlotte once won the Break Out competition.)
During this week's rehearsal, the band runs through a series of high-energy tracks. "Virgin Suicide," with a seductive poem at the song's onset, is methodical until it builds into a full-scale rock track. The aforementioned "Bad Girl" is hard and aggressive, a seemingly perfect song for this weekend's performance. Then there's "Used," a song for anyone who's been cheated on and lied to, Kacey says.
Still, when Black Alley opens the festival, they are likely to see a different crowd than they are used to playing. They recently performed for Chuck Brown's 75th birthday and work every Friday as the in-house band at the Indulj jazz club. With the HFStival, however, the other bands vacillate between breezy alt-rock and punk, and Black Alley's music is rooted in soul.
"We're different from what the festival is used to," Kacey says. "But we don't fit into any type of box. It will be something new and I think people will be blown away."
The band plans to end Saturday's show with a rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Look out for Animal's drum solo. And the possible encore. Word to Nicki Minaj.
Black Alley Covers Big KRIT's Dreamin - Review
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"Through jazz, r&b funk, and rock, Black Alley appeals to the ear of a wide fanbase. Not only does t..."Through jazz, r&b funk, and rock, Black Alley appeals to the ear of a wide fanbase. Not only does this group fuse various genres into bliss, but they all represent the love and passion for music in special ways. If you haven’t already, check out Black Alley’s bandcamp page for their latest music."
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By Donna Jacob If you live and party in D.C., Maryland or Virginia (aka the DMV) and have not see...By Donna Jacob
If you live and party in D.C., Maryland or Virginia (aka the DMV) and have not seen the band Black Alley, you are really missing out. (Photography Credits- Sean White)
1. black adj \blak\
2. alley noun \ale\
A very dark narrow passageway lacking hue and brightness.
While the literal definition of the band name suggests a place that you might not want to visit, the reality is you absolutely want to be wherever the "soul garage" movement is taking place! Wondering what “soul garage” is? It is what Pop was to Michael Jackson, what Soul is to Aretha Franklin, what R&B was to Luther Vandross and what Alternative Rock is to Coldplay. Soul Garage is Black Alley’s personally created genre to describe their musical niche based on their preferences, abilities and ambitions; a genre that infuses all of the above in addition to jazz, funk and go-go.
On an unseasonably warm February evening in the Nation’s Capitol, I had the pleasure of interviewing Black Alley before they hit the stage for their regular Thursday night gig. The band consists of six (6) men (Danny “Animal” Williams, Josh Hartzog, Hope Udobi, *Mack Tyson, Eric Champaleux and Walter Beedy) and one (1) woman (Kacey Williams). The members, all of whom hail from the DMV, range in age from 21 to 35, the majority of which cite their only other musical experience, prior to joining the band, as either playing in local go-go bands and/or the church choir. And just a bit of musical trivia, Walter Beedy (aka Beedy) has a great-cousin in the legendary Duke Ellington; how’s that for musical genes?!
The first impression that I got from the six (6) very distinct personalities that I spoke with was that they were extremely close; almost like family. Clearly, they have meshed and gelled over the years, to the point of exhibiting the normal behaviors usually attributed to that of a family; like finishing each other’s sentences, laughing at inside jokes that nobody else understands and sharing viewpoints based on similar experiences. I guess this really isn’t unusual as the band is eight (8) years in the making. While most of the members are not original to the band, many have been a part of the band for years. Adjustments, readjustments and a shuffling of players over the years has apparently finally resulted in the right combination and chemistry necessary for success.
As far as Black Alley’s talent; in a word, limitless. They immediately evoke comparisons to the Brand New Heavies featuring N’Dea Davenport, in the days of 1991’s “Never Stop” or 1994’s “Dream on Dreamer”. The comparisons are specific to band structure, out-of-the-box musical performances, working to be “different”, and at 5’1”, the twenty-something powerhouse vocalist and front-woman of the band, Kacey, even resembles a youthful N’Dea (in my opinion). Although young, their musical aptitude is wise beyond their years; hence the similarities.
Now being in a band is not always an easy existence. They readily admit that they struggle with wrangling seven (7) personalities in an effort to get all players on one accord, finding the time to maintain successful personal lives and attempting to stay ahead of the curve by keeping their performances fresh, new and relevant. In addition, they acknowledge that the DMV music scene does not offer many resources or opportunities for moving careers on to the next level, and fellow musicians are not always willing to offer a helping hand. This is consistent with the notion that has remained constant over the years, in that the D.C. music scene is reminiscent of “crabs in a barrel.” It is a sad, but unfortunately true commentary regarding the competitive nature that exists amongst local performers and negatively impacts everybody. The regrettable thing is that competitive spirit, without the cutthroat aspect, can actually be a good thing.
While Black Alley certainly appreciates the go-go sound that contributes to their musical DNA and understands the standard expectation usually associated with being a part of the D.C. music scene, they adamantly state, “we are not a go-go band.” They have visions of taking their musical offerings way beyond the DMV borders and into the mainstream, playing along with or opening for acts such as U2, N.E.R.D., Macy Gray and Coldplay.
Having already opened for major acts Chrisette Michele, Elle Varner and Ledisi, playing in New York, Los Angeles, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, they are ready to experience the next level, which would include for them, performing overseas, in places like Dubai and Tokyo. As they put it, “we want to play arenas!” Considering that they’ve already won accolades in local awards shows with the latest being a 2012 Wammy (Washington Area Music Association) for best Urban Contemporary Duo or Group, added to their spirited ambition, enthusiasm and talent, they will undoubtedly accomplish their goals.
They are releasing their first full album, “Soul.Swagger.Rock.Sneakers” independently, through Alley House Entertainment. The album will formerly introduce all listeners to “soul garage”, promising to deliver “the bitter and the sweet, the poetry and the pain and the simple and the profound.” A release party is scheduled for Sunday, March 18, 2012 at the Rock ‘n Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C. Tickets are required for admittance. In addition, they perform, every Thursday at Bar 7, every Friday at Indulj and will perform at the 2012 CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association).
When each Black Alley member was asked to describe the band in one word, they offered the following: “Real, Different, Incredimazing, Fiya, Crankin and Rockin.” I think it is safe to say that this band truly believes their own hype and the world can either roll with the “soul garage movement” or get rolled over! So the next time you decide to hit the town, do yourself a favor and seek out the sounds of Black Alley; you will not be disappointed. In the words of the legendary BIG, “if you don’t know, now you know!”
Black Alley Contact Information:
Black Alley Band at Rock & Roll Hotel
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Black Alley Band at Rock & Roll Hotel Sunday, March 18 By Marcus J. Moore • March 16, 2012 In a...Black Alley Band at Rock & Roll Hotel
Sunday, March 18
By Marcus J. Moore • March 16, 2012
In a city where go-go reigns supreme, it’s almost impossible to classify Black Alley’s self-described fusion of funk, soul, and garage. While the local septet is widely considered a go-go band, its sound is much more inclusive. Sometimes the group morphs into a full-on rock band with abrasive guitar riffs and crashing drum cymbals; elsewhere, they explore subdued R&B melodies, with lead vocalist Kacey Williams tackling the all-familiar topic of romance. That multifaceted mixture has served the band well so far: Black Alley has performed with Chuck Brown and opened the HFStival at Merriweather Post Pavilion. So tonight’s show at the Rock & Roll Hotel is a celebration of sorts, as Black Alley performs songs from Soul.Swagger.Rock.Sneakers, its long-awaited debut album.
Black Alley Band performs with Funk Mnkyz at 7 p.m. at Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE. $25 in advance, $30 at the door. rockandrollhoteldc.com. (202) 388-ROCK.
Nightlife Agenda: ...Black Alley CD album release show
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We don’t encourage copying, but we wouldn’t be mad if other bands followed Black Alley’s lead. In a ...We don’t encourage copying, but we wouldn’t be mad if other bands followed Black Alley’s lead. In a town that’s been known for producing amazing live musical groups across eras, there should definitely be more killer live hip-hop/R&B bands rocking the urban sounds of the moment. The go-go band tradition is still alive among the younger set, but what makes Black Alley solid is that it covers all bases. After a long period of residencies around town to build its rep, the band has a new full-length album in the can. To celebrate the release of “Soul. Swagger. Rock. Sneakers,” Black Alley will be joined at the Rock & Roll Hotel by comedian Eddie Bryant and DJ Jerome Baker III.
Brightest Young Things: “Upcoming Shows You Should Blow Your $$$ On”
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You work hard for your money so we're workin' hard for you to know where and when to spend it. Ever...You work hard for your money so we're workin' hard for you to know where and when to spend it. Every Thursday we'll put together a Spotify playlist of recommended shows that are going on sale this week to blow all your disposable income on. Consider this your bible for all things concert related for the rest of your LIFE...
Mar-18: BLACK ALLEY @ Rock & Roll Hotel Bonus! Each ticket will include a complimentary CD to be given on day of show
Black Alley in the Running for “Garage to GRAMMYS Live” Spot
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Back in October, we spoke to Kacey of Black Alley about her band's pursuit of greater notoriety. Now...Back in October, we spoke to Kacey of Black Alley about her band's pursuit of greater notoriety. Now, through the "Garage To Grammys Live" program, they have a chance to really grab the music industry's attention while representing the DMV.
Black Alley is currently competing against numerous acts from around the country and Canada for the opportunity to take the stage as part of the Grammy festivities next month, a performance that could be critical in getting more people familiar with the band.
And this is where Black Alley hopes you can be of assistance.
The winning act will be determined by a fan vote. Partisans can vote up to ten times in a day for a band. As of Wednesday, Black Alley was trending in the top 30 but according to band representative Lachelle Story, "We would like to keep the momentum going."
Through Tuesday, January 24 people can vote for BA here. So if you really want to help a local band get recognition and see some D.C. representation at the Grammys, vote and let your opinion be registered.
Washington Post's take on Black Alley (part of Nightlife Agenda: Enjoy outdoor concerts and bars while you can)
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"...Black Alley is a hard-working party band that can rock out, cover the newest rap, pop and R&B hi..."...Black Alley is a hard-working party band that can rock out, cover the newest rap, pop and R&B hits and also crank a go-go socket."
Interview: Black Alley on Pushing DC to its Rhythmic Limits
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Washington, DC has yet to join the ranks of other major metropolitan cities that have been able to m...Washington, DC has yet to join the ranks of other major metropolitan cities that have been able to maintain national and international musical prominence. Despite its large (yet ever-declining) African American population, the nation's capital has produced very few mainstream cultural icons. Many have argued that the overwhelming popularity of go-go music in DC has minimized the growth of other genres. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Black Alley band matters so much; they are "pushing the DC music scene to its rhythmic limits."
For over four years now, the group has been synthesizing funk, jazz, soul, rock, and go-go, birthing a one-of-a-kind sound they call "soul garage." They describe their music as "a place where Bad Brains might chill with Chuck Brown; where Erykah Badu might slide through with Jimi Hendrix and remix a Nina Simone classic. Emotionally, Black Alley strives to connect the bitter and the sweet, the poetry and the pain, the simple and the profound." Performing at nightclubs throughout the city on a weekly basis, the group has become a sought-after city staple with a loyal following. They have shared the stage with the likes of Raheem DeVaughn, Eric Roberson, Yahzarah, Ledisi, Bilal, Sy Smith, Emily King, Y’anna Crawley, Jaguar Wright, Dionne Farris, Levi Stephens, Maimouna Youseff, Mint Condition, and Angie Stone.
There's something rejuvenating about a group of musicians bringing your favorite songs to life in ways previously unimagined that makes Black Alley an Urban Cusp favorite. If you've ever had the pleasure of hearing them perform live, then you know that "the sometimes sweet, sometimes soulful, always energetic voice of Black Alley’s leading lady" will remain with you well after the party has ended. It was a pleasure to hear from her and the group's manager in response to these questions about their musical identity, sources of inspiration, DC-bred style, and challenges faced.
Kacey Williams – Lead Vocals
Danny “The Animal” Henderson – Drums
Josh Hartzog – Bass
Hope Udobi – Keys
Mack Tyson – Keys
Eric Champaleux – Rock Guitar
Walter “Bo” Beedy – Percussion
Kacey Williams and Walter 'Bo' Beedy
Black Alley's debut album Soul.Swagger.Rock.Sneakers
Black Alley Performing
Urban Cusp: What inspired the name Black Alley?
Omar Kashif (founder/manager of Black Alley): The name comes from two places. The “Alley” part came first - I grew up in an apartment in SE Washington, DC. My bedroom was on the bottom level right next to an alley and I definitely heard and saw some interesting things there! The “Black” part came last - its the color that describes DC's reputation on the national music scene. It's like DC is a Black Alley while other spots like ATL, NYC, and Philly became hot spots. We are just as talented here but still haven't really gotten our shot. We want to be the band that does what few others from here have been able to do. Black Alley represents where we come from but we are gonna bring it to the light....
UC: What sets Black Alley and its music apart from other bands in DC and nationally?
Kacey (Lead Singer): Black Alley's fusion of musical genres is what gives us our edge. In fact, we couldn't define our sound by industry standards, so we gave it our own name...Soul Garage.
UC: Has your sound and artistry changed at all over time or is it a lot like it was when you all first started performing?
Kacey: Like any creative effort, you learn more and get better and better. I wouldn't say that it has changed; I would say that it has grown.
UC: In what ways has DC’s unique music and fashion culture shaped the band’s identity?
Kacey: DC's mix of culture and diversity has enabled the band to pull inspiration from many different sources. DC is blessed in that we are a city where all types of music can thrive - from Go-Go to Hip-Hop to Rock to Jazz to R&B. Black Alley is lucky to be able to be inspired by the music that DC has to offer. In regards to fashion - DC has never been a city where people are afraid to try or set trends. DC's people are daring and bold. That's how we would want Black Alley's music to come across.
UC: What genres and artists influence your sound and style the most?
Kacey: I would say without hesitation there is no ONE genre or artist. We can pull inspiration from anyone.
UC: As the lead singer, how do you balance rock star status with your day job/home life?
Kacey: I'm hardly on rock star status but it can be difficult. Some have said that I have multiple personalities [laughs] and I think in a sense that's something I have to have for the time being. Until I'm in a place where I can pursue music full time, I have to have an on/off switch. Kacey of Black Alley would probably not be welcomed in the office [smiles].
UC: What is the ultimate measure of success for Black Alley?
Kacey: I think our success will be determined by our ability to say that we had an effect on music, that we made a mark in music's history.
DCist: Interview w/ Kacey of Black Alley
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DCist Interview: Kacey of Black Alley When you're a music writer, there's a tendency to use the mo...DCist Interview: Kacey of Black Alley
When you're a music writer, there's a tendency to use the most readily available adjective to describe a band's sonic orientation. "Rock," "funk" and "alternative" come to mind. If you're in D.C., though, "go-go" has to be in the descriptive soup, too.... CLICK REVIEW LINK FOR FULL STORY
3 Minutes with a Music Muse: Kacey of Black Alley
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When you are the lead singer for a popular DC Soul Garage band, your time is very limited. That is ...When you are the lead singer for a popular DC Soul Garage band, your time is very limited. That is what made Kacey, the lead singer of the band Black Alley, a perfect candidate for the “3 minutes with a Music Muse” interview. Born and raised in the DC area, Kacey is a graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, MD. She moved to Philly to attend college at Temple University and came home to make her mark on the DC music scene.
When asked the meaning behind the band name “Black Alley”, Cam Poles (Founding Partner of AlleyHouse Ent. and one of the band’s managers) explains:
It's sort of a metaphor for where DC is located on the musical landscape... If you thought of the music scene as a city, Philly would have it's own little neo-soul neighborhood; of course Detroit would have the Motown district and all the post-soul sounds that flowed from there; NYC would have the hip-hop district; Nashville would be the country-soul ward; KC and New Orleans would be the blues and jazz corridor... But where would DC be?
Despite a rich history in music and a proliferation of formidable indie talent here, DC is just sort of the Black Alley - the forgotten, overlooked, undervalued section of the musical landscape in this country. So that's what "Black Alley" represents...
During the intermission of their weekly Friday performance at Indulj Restaurant and Lounge, I had the chance to sneak away and chat with the 24-year-old petite powerhouse about the band and her musical influences.
Lachelle: How long have you been with Black Alley?
Kacey: I’ve been with the band a little over 3 years
Lachelle: Are you from the DC area?
Kacey: Yes , I’m from the DC area. I’m from PG, went to school in Philadelphia and came home.
Lachelle: So how did you link up with Black Alley?
Kacey: Actually, Omar (band manager) was looking for a lead singer and I met him through a friend of mine. I talked about business with him and here I am. It is all about who you know around here.
Lachelle: There are a lot of female artists in DC. Have you found it to be a loving environment or is there a lot of competition amongst the female artists in the DC music scene?
Kacey: It is definitely love. Of course there is always a bit of competition because everyone wants to be the best. But from what I have experienced everyone is loving each other and supporting each other’s music. So I haven’t seen any type of hate.
Lachelle: How would you describe the Black Alley sound?
Kacey: It is a fusion of so many different elements. We have musicians that come from all realms of the industry. We have GoGo. We have Jazz. We have Hip-Hop. We have a Latin sound. So there is a fusion of all those things that come together to make the sound of Black Alley.
Lachelle: People who come to your live shows love it and I am sure they want to know how they can get your original music. It is available? Where can they find it?
Kacey: We are actually working on a project now and it is due to be out hopefully by the summer. They can always go through our website www.blackalleyband.com to get information about that.
Lachelle: What is your favorite Black Alley song?
Kacey: “Used” because it allows me to release some anger/tension on stage. I get to act crazy for three whole minutes and no one questions me or looks at me funny!
Lachelle: Who is your musical inspiration (dead or alive):
Kacey: I’m inspired by women who dare to be different in music like Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Janis Jopplin, Lena Horne and Nina Simone.
Lachelle: Where can people see you guys?
Kacey: We are at Indulj every single Friday. We have been here at Indulj for over a year. We also have spot gigs here and there. But people can check our website and facebook page to catch up with us.
Recap: Black Alley performs at Kicks for Kids v.5 (2011)
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...."Black Alley closed the show and they were well worth the wait. During their set celebrity artis......."Black Alley closed the show and they were well worth the wait. During their set celebrity artist and great friend of Gypsy Soul Demont Peekaso did a live painting and as always the band delivered an awesome performance. Their lead singer always brings it on stage and her energy is contagious."
Soul Garage Band, Black Alley, selected to open for HFStival 2011
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DC Soul Garage Band, Black Alley were selected as the winners of the HFSTival “Battle to Breakout B...DC Soul Garage Band, Black Alley were selected as the winners of the HFSTival “Battle to Breakout Band Competition” sponsored by Best Buy, California Tortilla and WHFS radio station (Baltimore, MD). They were selected out of over 40 bands to perform in front of over 10,000 people as the opening act for the upcoming HFStival that will be held on September 17th at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland.
Black Alley is setting trends in the music scene via their “Soul Garage” music movement. Soul Garage is a moniker developed by the band to describe their unique blend of all music genres to create one united and “crankin” sound. Black Alley has performed with countless local and national artists. Most recently, they performed as a part of the 75th Birthday celebration for the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown at the 9:30 Club. They are currently wrapping up their debut album "Soul. Swagger. Rock. Sneakers".
Beat Ya Feet Kings, Black Alley bring D.C. hip hop to Lowell Folk Festival
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With their speed-of-sound timing and intricate steps, Beat Ya Feet Kings of Washington, D.C., gained...With their speed-of-sound timing and intricate steps, Beat Ya Feet Kings of Washington, D.C., gained a national
following after their appearance on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.”
With the band, Black Alley, they will bring the hip hop dance sty le of Beat Y a Feet – with origins and inspiration from the
streets and lives of D.C. – to this y ear’s Lowell Folk Festival.
Beat Ya Feet Kings founder and manager, Diallo Sumbry – who has been in entertainment since childhood, and whose
background includes West African music -- recently talked about what’s in store for the festival performances.
Q What does Beat Ya Feet Kings have planned for the Lowell Folk Festival?
A It will be somewhat of a fusion. You will see some choreographed moves, some exclusive choreography for the folk
festival, some things we did on MTV, and some new stuff.
We are extremely happy to have Black Alley come with us. It’s music from the natural element – and that is, backed by a live
band. If you go to D.C., you find the liv e instrumentation. It drives the dancers more. It’s a lot more exciting, a lot more
We are hoping to pull a few people up from the audience to dance. It is very interactive.
D.C. has a lot of go-go bands. [Go-go is a variation of funk, with its origins generally attributed to the D.C. area. The style is
characterized by syncopated and irregular rhythms, percussive ornamentation, a slow-driving conga beat and often, calland-
response between band members and the audience.] We could have chosen any band to come with us…we chose Black
Alley because we have a working relationship.
Q With this dance style, there must be room for improvisation.
A Y ou won’t really see a 45-minute choreography. It’s not that type of dance. Y ou will see a 10-minute choreography. It’s a
lot of fast moves, a lot of footwork.
Q How does the group improvise and work together? Are there cues between group members?
A In most hip hop, ev erybody has a session. You create a circle, or a semi-circle. Every one comes out to the circle and each
one does something improv isational. What we do in the dance that is so exciting is that you can have five people doing
something totally different.
You have the term, “flat out” – where everybody just goes for it. What you will find is that the dancers give each other
energy . So one dancer does improvisation, and he may bring another dancer into that improvisation. It’s up to each
dancer’s creativ ity .
Q How did Beat Y a Feet Kings form?
A In 2006, I think it was, I watched a movie called, “Rize,” about krumping [a hip hop style from south central Los Angeles.]
After I saw that movie, I said, “I have to get those guys to teach me.” I looked up a group online called Krump Kings. I
created a weeklong festiv al….I thought it would be cool to have a battle between krumping and beat ya feet….at that time,
there were no beat ya feet groups. It had lost some of its popularity due to the violence that had occurred around the dance,
and people said, “Hey, it’s not cool anymore.”
The intent wasn’t to create a group, but I had brought a group together for the competition, and over time, we bonded and
molded. I said to them, “I know we did this to go against krump, but we want to take beat ya feet worldwide. If it’s something
you want to do, you have to commit your life to it." They said, “No, we’re down.” From there, we practiced, and set
Q If someone was not familiar with the differences among different hip hop styles, what would you say distinguishes beat ya
feet from the other styles?
A One, footwork. A lot of beat y a feet is about footwork. It’s about footwork and spontaneity. One of the ways you would be
able to distinguish it from anything else is also the music. Beat y a feet music is go-go music. We’ve adapted beat y a feet style
for MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” but the bounce is in the beat.
I guess you might see more people doing beat ya feet now, but in the beginning, it was only done to go-go music. Now, you
might see R&B music.
Mainly , it’s the footwork – v ery fast footwork. Feet are crossing, backward and forth – and a lot of creativity.
Q You mentioned how hip hop dance – and hip hop music – have been hurt by connotations of violence. Is there a
challenge in distancing the music and dance from these connotations?
A Slush [Marvin “Slush” Taylor] created beat ya feet. [Sumbry said Taylor was from Barry Farms, a housing project in
Washington D.C. which he said was beset by violence and drugs.] Any place you have an extreme amount of poverty, you
are going to hav e violence. It happens in a lot of urban areas where this music thrives.
In the competition, what I wanted to show people is that you can have people from the west coast and east coast together.
What we have been preaching since we started the beat y a feet movement is, stop the violence and dance.
We have been doing workshops in schools and teaching them that there are other ways to handle differences. The other
thing we say is, if you spend your time dancing and learning – I don’t care if it’s ballet – you won’t have the time to get into
trouble, because you are so committed to the dance form.
This is how our creativity can help influence the y outh and get them to spend their time dancing, as opposed to hanging out
on the street corner where idle time gets them into trouble.
Q The Lowell Folk Festival has strict criteria about what defines a traditional folk art. There may be people out there who
say hip hop is too closely associated with popular music to be considered a folk art. What would y ou say in response?
A I would have them look at what does it mean to be a folk tradition. I would ask them to look at the criteria. One v ery
important part of folk tradition is regionality. It is normally something restricted to a certain region, and it is only done in
that region, and that region is where you’d have to go and learn it. Beat ya feet is national because we were on MTV, but the
form lives in D.C. Y ou can’t go to L.A. and do beat ya feet, it doesn’t work.
Some people say all traditional folk arts are old – they come from the 18th century, or are hundreds and thousands of years
old, and that is not true. Sometimes traditions merge. With krumping, we hav e begun to merge it. Let’s say there is maybe
Irish step dancing, and west African drumming and dancing – then you have almost created a whole new folk tradition, but
you still have to go to Ireland, or west Africa, to learn the original traditions.
If you go
Beat Ya Feet Kings is on stage with Black Alley at the Lowell Folk Festival, with performances scheduled for Saturday, July
24, 4:30 p.m. at John F. Kennedy Plaza and at 7 :30 p.m. Dutton Street Dance Pavilion and Sunday, July 25, at 1:30 p.m. at
Dutton Street Dance Pavilion and at 4:15 p.m. at John F. Kennedy Plaza.
For more information, including a complete schedule, locations and updates, visit www.lowellfolkfestival.org.
Artist Spotlight: Black Alley ‘Soul, Swagger and Rock’ Into Our Playlist
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After years of being the driving force behind the D.C. music scene, Black Alley has come to the next...After years of being the driving force behind the D.C. music scene, Black Alley has come to the next stage: a debut album. Soul. Swagger. Rock. Sneakers bares an eclectic sound that moves you to a higher musical vibe. Their brand of music, ‘Soul Garage,’ intertwines R&B, jazz, hip-hop, funk, and rock. Black Alley does something on stage that a lot of other bands can’t seem to master. Maybe it’s the tight bond between the 7 members Kacey, Danny, Bo Beedy, Hope, Josh, Mack and Eric. Perhaps, it’s just the undeniable fact that each one is talented in their own right.
Recognizing this talent and wanting to get in on the magic, divaMissioN caught up with a few of the band members and their managers to find out more about DC’s musical gem. What makes Black Alley so unique? As the band would say, get with it or just get left:
You play the keys in the band. When did you start and what’s your musical inspiration?
I started messing around with the piano around 7 years old. Didn’t really take it serious ’til I was about 12 years when I played my first gig. I’m inspired by life, different cultures and other more experienced musicians.”
What passion does living in D.C. bring to your music?
Living in D.C. brings motivation and determination. We definitely want our music to be heard from more people in and outside of the city, and get a larger diverse fan base.”
How did you link up with Black Alley?
I knew about Black Alley for a couple of months. I would go see them after my shows. Our manager tried to set something up like jamming with the band just to get a feel of their style, but I always had a show or something. One day, I was in rehearsing with an artist by the name of Maimouna Youssef at our rehearsal spot and Danny (Black Alley drummer) happened to be there. He asked me if I was interested in playing in Black Alley. I said ‘sure I’ll give it a shot.’ So the rest is history.”
Kacey (Lead Vocals)
As the lead vocalist in the band, what would you say the hardest part of your job is?
The hardest part is finding the balance. There are so many factors that come with the job; personal life, connecting with fans, and connecting with fellow band members. Being able to balance them all is a challenge.”
Where do you get your drive from? What keeps you going?
It definitely comes from the fans. I can feel down, depressed, and even feel like I can’t go on but, when I see fans or even potential turn to true fans. I have to keep going.”
After watching footage of the band performing on Youtube, it’s clear that your passion burns through every song. Who are your musical inspirations? When did you start singing?
I started in church at age 0 (laughs). My grandmother put me in the choir. I’m inspired by Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Patti Labelle, Diana Ross, Earth Wind and Fire, The Rolling Stones- it goes on and on. There are so many to pull inspiration from.”
How does new Black Alley material differ from your old material?
Well my old material had a more smoother, Neo-Soul type feel. I’m from Richmond, VA and Neo-Soul is one of the major influences in the music scene in that area. We (Black Alley) have a more heavier, cutting edge sound. You actually have an experience as if you were really in a garage surrounded by liquor, bass, and Booty!! It’s Black Alley baby! #J_O_B
How do you feel about the future success of your forthcoming album Soul. Swagger. Rock. Sneakers.?
Soul. Swagger. Rock. Sneakers. (aka S.S.R.S.) is really going to set the pace for 2012. It’s going to help us push the Soul Garage movement even more. We have been working really hard to show people what “Soul Garage” sounds and feels like. S.S.R.S is just the beginning (sample) of this movement!
What struggles have you encountered from being an Indie artist?
Being an indie artists has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, people really don’t know who you are so it gets kind of frustrating sometimes. On the positive side, we are free to do what we want to do. We’re free to express our feelings how we want to express them. We are free to be who we want to be!! #J_O_B
Black Alley managers Cameron and Omar talk about what sets Black Alley a part from other up and comers:
Cameron Poles (Manager)
Black Alley consists of a mixture of talented musicians – each highly skilled with his/her chosen instrument. They are also crazy as hell! Straight fools! Best thing about the band – their personalities; worst thing about the band – their personalities.
Seriously though, the thing about Black Alley is their DESIRE! The desire to just flat-out crank – whatever the costs. They fight through fatigue of body AND mind and just rock the fuck out of each and every show!”
Omar Kashif (Manager)
Black Alley has an intense energy on the stage. We want listeners to have a thought-provoking experience, and fun! Our forthcoming street album, Soul Swagger Rock Sneakers, will give folks a look at the diverse range of the group. We hope folks love it as much as we loved putting it together.”
Black Alley has all the ingredients necessary to add to the success they already have and go mainstream. Here at divaMissioN, we love discovering new music that moves us inside and out- Black Alley is just the ticket. The passion, drive and desire displayed on stage cannot be matched and for you to feel what we’re talking about, just WATCH and LISTEN:
Social Media Links:
Facebook: Black Alley
Featured Artist: Black Alley
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"...we’re pumped to feature local Soul Garage band, Black Alley. What is Soul Garage, you ask? It’s ..."...we’re pumped to feature local Soul Garage band, Black Alley. What is Soul Garage, you ask? It’s a music genre created to distinguish the sound that Black Alley makes, proving that they are not your average go-go band; not even close. Whether it’s soul, rock, funk, hip-hop, etc., Black Alley’s got you covered in their “Tropical Kool-Aid” mix. "
Black Alley – Artists’ Prayer (Push Play) feat. Nicholas Ryan Gant
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"I found out about DC area band Black Alley after receiving an email about their cover of Big Krit’s..."I found out about DC area band Black Alley after receiving an email about their cover of Big Krit’s 'Dreamin’. Totally enamored, I did more research and found their 16 track album, SOUL.SWAGGER.ROCK.SNEAKERS. which features appearances by Raheem Devaughn and Nicholas Ryan Gant. Soulful at times and rockin throughout, this is the perfect album to break the monotony of your mp3 playlist because no one else is rockin like this!"
Interview: Black Alley, Talks About The New Age Of Soul Garage
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"Bringing a new wave of Soul Garage to a new generation, Black Alley has been in the game for about ..."Bringing a new wave of Soul Garage to a new generation, Black Alley has been in the game for about 5 years. They are based out of D.C. and represent the region's "band-like" and "go-go" tendencies. Their diverse backgrounds and rhythmic intuitions help to develop their unbarred sound."
Rahsaan Patterson, Kindred Family Soul & Black Alley Band At The Fillmore In Silver Spring Maryland
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"An eclectic evening such as this wouldn’t be complete without some local flavor. Black Alley, a loc..."An eclectic evening such as this wouldn’t be complete without some local flavor. Black Alley, a local garage band from Washington D.C. The inclusion of Black Alley, a seven member team was a pleasant addition to the lineup; the young and fresh rising stars holding their own with a night of talented veterans. The group is made up of lead vocalist Kacey Williams, bass guitarist Josh Hartzog, Dwayne filled in this evening as lead guitarist during Eric Champaloux absent, keyboardists Mack Tyson and Hope Udobi, rounded out by percussionist Walter Clark and drummer Danny Henderson. Don’t be fooled by the fact Black Alley hails from the D.C. area; Go-Go is not their only forte. Their style consists of a welcoming fusion of go-go, soul and garage-beat, rock, and funk. During the latter half of their concert, Black Alley surprised the Fillmore crowed with their interpretation of the Diana Ross classic “Love Hangover”, which was handled beautifully by Kacey Williams. "
BOBBYPEN’S ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: BLACK ALLEY [VIDEO]
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hey describe their sound as “Soul Garage,” because they didn’t want to limit themselves to any one m...hey describe their sound as “Soul Garage,” because they didn’t want to limit themselves to any one musical genre. From covers of contemporary pop, rock and R&B songs, nods to Soul legends of the past, and their own original material, Black Alley is a sound unlike anything else you’ve heard out of DC.
Having had the opportunity to open for acts such as Chrisette Michele, Rashaan Patterson, Common, Angie Stone, Kindred and the Family Soul, Meek Mill and hometown heroes Wale and Raheem DeVaughn, Black Alley sees themselves headlining a national tour soon, and eventually touring the world within the next five years.
Word that malls in Singapore, Japan are playing tracks from their debut album “Soul.Swagger.Rock.Sneakers.” has piqued the band’s confidence, and raised expectations for their future.
INTRODUCING D.C. BAND BLACK ALLEY & THEIR VIDEO “VIRGIN SUICIDE”
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Black Alley is a mix of funk, jazz, soul and rock and have established their own sound called Soul G...Black Alley is a mix of funk, jazz, soul and rock and have established their own sound called Soul Garage. They have been dominating the D.C. nightlife scene for over five years. They have taken their talents to New York, Pennsylvania, Miami and they even performed in Charlotte, NC over the past weekend during the infamous CIAA weekend.
Black Alley pokazuja sie z najbardziej wrazliwej strony
Black Alley pokazuja sie z najbardziej wrazliwej strony
Varies based on show and audience